Northeast ridge of Lone Pine Peak

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The Northeast ridge of Lone Pine Peak

After being up on Mt Russell the week before, I thought the weather/snow cover was adequate to start of the alpine climbing season. I’d heard about the good climbing on Lone Pine Peak, and been wanting to do something there. Thinking I should probably leave the Bastille Buttress until later in the season, and given that I ended up finding no partners (come on folks!), one of the ridges seemed the way to go!

Sujung was heading up the Eastside for some low altitude climbing, and in her infinite kindness offered to drop me off at Lone Pine Campground, just beneath the route. I hike the rest of the way to the base that Friday night, and got to bed at 11:30ish.

The ridge is around three miles long and ~7000ft of vertical from the base, and has something like three distinct sections. I started the first at 6am Saturday morning, which was easy hiking uphill among the sand, rocks and trees. Soon enough I reached the rock climbing in the middle section, where the real fun is. Lots of beautiful knife edges and exposure, a few towers to navigate and quite good rock quality overall. This section was what the route is famous for, and is plenty long on its own, mostly fourth and easy fifth, with a couple of sections up to 5.6-5.7, depending on how you navigate. Check it out:

In the middle, looking up
In the middle, looking down

Eventually the ridge dead ends at a headwall, which is sort of a part of the east ridge. In this last section, one can traverse below the headwall, and go up a gully to the summit, or go straight up the headwall and finish the traversing on top of the east ridge.

I had initially been worrying I might not be fast enough, but it turned out that wasn’t an issue, and I should have worried about the lingering snow in this upper section. I had my approach shoes, microspikes, and one axe. The traverse looked decent, mostly covered in deep snow, with a few not-so-deep sections.

The headwall looked similar, as it is basically a series of slabs and small overlaps, and a lot of the slabs had plenty snow of their own. I thought I’d spotted a line with minimal difficulties and snow cover, but this didn’t end up great, as it was mostly the loosest rock that stuck above the snow (not really that bad though), and I still had to deal with a fair amount of snow. It was a bit heads-up, but I made it to the ridge in decent time, and without having to pull too hard.

From here it was a another section of fun, though flat, ridge to the summit:

On top of the last ridge, a view of the middle section below, and the headwall behind my right foot.

I got to the summit at 12:40pm, playing don’t touch the snow with the rocks exposed on the snow field. After siphoning some water from one of the many pools, I headed toward the west descent gully. Probably longer than the east ledges, but straightforward, and with some lakes! The gully was mostly scree, but there was snow by the lakes. After a quick swim and some relaxing in the sun, I took the long walk down and around to where I started, with plenty of time for dinner once I arrived. What a great day!

After a pleasant walk through the desert the next morning Sujung and company picked me up in Lone Pine. The ridge will probably be a bit more snow free in a few weeks, but will also be lacking the plentiful water in the rock divots. Sooner or later, you should definitely do it!

Dustin